Many recipients of the third stimulus check were happy to see their $1,400 (or more) directly deposited into their bank accounts over the weekend, only to be told they couldn't access it until Wednesday, March 17.
Anger erupted on social media, with customers accusing big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo of milking the deposited stimulus money for interest. "Criminal" and "unethical practices" were some of the nicer phrases tossed around. Others were asking why customers of smaller banks and credit unions were getting their money.
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It's criminal that you're holding on to the stimulus payments until the 17th. There is zero reason to hold onto them.I predict this will be the last straw with a lot of people. This is a horrible move on your part. You deserve the loss of customers.March 13, 2021
Exactly why will it be March 17th and not when Wells Fargo receives it? Why? That's the only question I have, and based off of that, I will decide whether to keep my account with this bank or not. It's not even about the stimulus funds. It's about your unethical practices.March 13, 2021
But, say the big banks and the system that handles electronic bank transfers, the reason is simple: The stimulus-check deposits are still pending because the government money hasn't yet been moved to the banks.
"Regardless of when payment files were sent and received, settlement of the funds for the payments will occur at 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 17, exactly as instructed by the IRS," states a post on the website of the National Automated Clearing House Association, or Nacha.
"This is literally the moment in time when the money will be transferred from the government to banks' and credit unions' settlement accounts at the Federal Reserve," the post continued.
"There is no mystery where the money is from the time the first payment file was transmitted on Friday, March 12 to when all recipients will have access to the money on Wednesday — it is still with the government."
Confusion and delay
Like a post-dated check, the money will not be legally released until the "settlement date" on the electronic transfer of funds, explained the Nacha post. March 17 is the date the IRS chose.
It didn't help clarify matters that the Biden administration and IRS implied that the stimulus money would be available to some people as early as this past weekend.
"Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17," the IRS mentioned halfway down the page of a statement announcing the third stimulus payments.
"March 17, 2021 is the first official payment date for eligible customers to receive a direct deposit of their stimulus payment," says Wells Fargo's page, "and customers may see a direct deposit as early as that morning."
The banks that are letting customers access the money before Wednesday, one bank executive in Virginia told WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, are probably using their own funds to cover the withdrawals until the government money comes in.
"Typically, the process is you pay based on the effective date, and it's an automated process," Bill Callaghan, chief operating officer of Blue Ridge Bank, said. "You know, quite honestly, it's not something that we like to tinker with."